It’s Easter. The day of bunnies in bow-ties, multi-colored plastic grass and candy filled eggs waiting to be found by eager children seeking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
It’s also the day, believed by many, when Jesus rose from the grave.
How did these contrasting pagan symbols and Christian holiday come together as one, you ask?
Well like other Christian holidays (Christmas, for example) the pagan symbols have been adopted over time. The eggs and the bunny both represent new life – the dominant theme of Easter.
The word Easter comes from the Germanic goddess of fertility, Eostre. Have you guessed what her animal symbol was? That’s right. It was a rabbit. And it’s all starting to come together.
No one seems to be quite sure how eggs became part of the day. One theory is that they used to be forbidden during Lent (the Catholic season leading up to Easter). When Easter day came the eggs were eaten, and their symbolism just happens to tie in perfectly.
Egg decorating is a highly esteemed Easter activity. The Russians even took it so far as the decorate gold eggs with jewels (read Faberge).
It’s thought that decorating eggs dates back to the 13th century. However, some believe this could go back to the later days of Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians are thought to have started a tradition that the Greek Orthodox church later adopted.
In this tradition, eggs are dyed red, typically on Holy Thursday. There are some stories about why the color red. Mostly they involve tears (the tears of the Virgin Mary) falling on eggs, or doubt (from the emperor) that turned the eggs red as proof of Jesus’ resurrection.
Regardless of the reason, come Easter the eggs are cracked in a highly anticipated game called tsougrisma.
Here’s how to play:
Props: 2 red eggs
Goal: Crack your opponent’s egg without cracking yours.
- Each player takes a red egg.
- Taking turns, the players tap the ends of each other’s eggs.
- When one end is cracked flip the egg so your opponent can try to crack the other end.
- The player with both ends cracked first loses.
- The winner will have good luck for a year.
These red eggs can last unrefrigerated for up to 40 days but if blessed by a priest can last up to a year.
Happy egging and happy Easter.